Revitalizing Our Towns
A 2017 report from the Pennsylvania Economy League on Communities in Distress summarizes the financial conditions of the cities, townships and boroughs throughout Pennsylvania on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the best and 5 indicating the municipality is in critical financial distress. We have 28 municipalities in the 107th district and of that 28 we have 9 at “level 5”, the most economically distressed ranking. Almost 59% of the people of the 107th district live in these highly distressed areas. It will probably come as no surprise that these areas include Danville, Washingtonville, Coal Township, Marion Heights, Zerbe Township, both Mt. Carmel Township and Borough, Shamokin, and Kulpmont.
These areas are in trouble, you know it, you see it, you read about it in the newspapers: the blighted properties in need of a good bulldozing, the crime rate, the opioid problem. Problems that need to be addressed. Problems that I can address as your Representative in Harrisburg.
I would propose legislation for financial support to the communities for purchasing neglected properties and demolition costs. We could then return the property to the community tax base for development or at least sell it for a nominal amount to the adjoining property owner so the lot is trash free and mowed.
We need to work on creating jobs, because someone who has steady employment is more likely to be able to afford to maintain their property and a lot less likely to engage in criminal activity or hard core drug use.
We need to make all of our communities in the district someplace we want to live in and employers want to move to.
As your Representative in Harrisburg, I would propose the legalization of recreational marijuana. There is a huge potential for tax revenue, probably on the order of $200 million per year. That money could go a long way to fund assistance to struggling school districts and to fund blighted property acquisition and clean up. Recent polls suggest that 59% of Pennsylvanians support legalizing recreational marijuana. Decriminalization of marijuana would leave our law enforcement, courts and prisons more resources to contend with the serious drug issue of the opioid epidemic. In Colorado, it is estimated that 18,000 jobs were created by the legalization of recreational marijuana. Increased tax revenue, decreased law enforcement costs, jobs created … that sounds like win, win, win to me.
As your Representative in Harrisburg I would propose the taxing of natural gas extraction by fracking. Every other state that has gas wells imposes a “severance tax”. Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, Colorado… they all have a tax. Of the top 15 gas producing states, Pennsylvania is the only one that does not have a severance tax. It is estimated that Pennsylvania is losing $300 million annually by not imposing a tax that the gas extraction industry sees as a “cost of doing business” in every other state. That $300 million could go a long way to closing the state budget gap, to fund our school systems and to support our community revitalization goals.
These are just a few of the problems and solutions I believe would go a long way to help Pennsylvania, to help the 107th district, and to help you.
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Friends of Sarah Donnelly
4939 State Route 54
Elysburg, PA 17824